This paper argues that immigration has varying implications for attitudes about government redistribution depending on the level at which immigration is experienced. Working in occupations with higher shares of foreign-born employees can raise individual economic insecurities in ways that might overwhelm the way high foreign-born shares of the population can reduce solidarity or increase fiscal burdens. Hence, experiencing more immigration in one's occupation might more positively affect support for government redistribution than does experiencing more national-level immigration. We test this and other expectations on survey data in 17 European polities, focused on occupational and national measures of immigration. While national-level exposure to foreign-born populations tends to have little effect on support for government redistribution, occupational-level exposure to immigration tends to spur such support. These results suggest that immigration directly influences the politics of inequality, but in ways more complicated than recent scholarship suggests.

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Journal of European Social Policy
Department of Sociology

Burgoon, B, Koster, F, & van Egmond, M. (2012). Support for redistribution and the paradox of immigration. Journal of European Social Policy, 22(3), 288–304. doi:10.1177/0958928712440198